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February 24, 2005
West Zone 223 (Parab 106*, Pathan 61*) and 207 beat South Zone 187 and 241 (Rao 79) by 9 wickets
Baroda's Satyajit Parab stroked a back-to-the wall century as West Zone cruised to a comfortable nine-wicket win against South at Hyderabad and stayed in contention for a spot in the Duleep Trophy final. The first two days were a riveting contest with the balance of power constantly shifting but Parab's composed 103, while chasing 222, enabled West to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Resuming at 141 for 5 this morning, with a lead of 121, South were pegged further back by Ajit Agarkar's double strike. Venugopal Rao battled on despite a loss of partners and he strung together a stand of 34 with Lakshmipathy Balaji. Rao was the last to fall, after making a gritty 79, and West were set a tricky target of 222 in their final innings.
However, Parab and Wasim Jaffer, the openers, soon made the target look inadequate as they raced along at a rapid rate. Jaffer fell to Anil Kumble for 28 and, in a surprise move - which proved a masterstroke - Irfan Pathan was promoted to No.3. Pathan carted seven fours and a six on his way to 61 and, along with Parab, who caned 18 fours himself, pushed West Zone towards the target.
Pathan capitalised on VVS Laxman's largesse - he dropped him twice in the same over off Rajamani Jesuraj - and remained unbeaten when the winning runs were scored. Parab, 30, has been one of the pillars of the Baroda line-up in recent years and completed his 13th first-class hundred just before the celebrations began.
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